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2006 Monday 20 November

Iraqi PM Holds Secret Meeting In Tehran

Kenneth R. Timmerman
Monday, Nov. 20, 2006

WASHINGTON -- Former Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari was in Tehran on Friday, where he held secret meetings with Iranian government officials, sources in Tehran told NewsMax.

Jaafari, the leader of Iraq's Islamic Dawa party, was elected prime minister by Iraq's first freely elected parliament in April 2005 and remained in office until early 2006, when he was replaced by his former deputy, Nouri al-Maliki.

During most of Saddam's reign, Jaafari and other Dawa party leaders were based in Iran and funded by the Iranian regime.

Jaafari was met by Iranian intelligence officers while staying at Tehran's Estaqlal hotel (the former Hilton), and taken in a motorcade to meetings with government officials. Journalists were banned from the hotel during his stay, NewsMax has learned.

Jaafari's visit to Tehran comes on the heels of a previously unreported attack on the Iranian embassy in Baghdad.

At approximately 8:15 a.m. on Monday, November 13, a car bomb exploded in front of the Iranian Embassy, which is located directly across from the entrance to the heavily guarded International Zone in central Baghdad, formerly known as the Green zone.

U.S. government sources in Baghdad confirmed the bombing, which damaged dozens of cars but caused no fatalities, and speculated that it might be retaliation by Sunni or other forces who oppose Iran's deepening involvement in Iraq's internal affairs.

Triggering the bombing, they believed, was the recent trip to Iran by the speaker of Iraq's National Assembly, Dr. Mahmoud al-Mashadani, an outspoken opponent of Operation Iraqi Freedom and of the U.S. involvement in Iraq.

Prime Minister al-Malaki owes his election to support from Muqtada al-Sadr, whose faction has 30 members in Parliament.

The al-Sadr faction initially supported Jaafari to continue as prime minister, but threw its support to Malaki when the vote remained deadlocked.

While Malaki and Jaafari have kept their distance from Sadr in public, behind the scenes they have called on Sadr's "Mahdi Militia" (MM) as an "enforcing militia," informed sources in Baghdad said. Sadr's forces have also been implicated in many of the attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq.

Muqtada al-Sadr is related by marriage to former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, and has gone to Iran four times over the past three years. He continues to receive $8 million to $10 million per month from the Iranian regime, according to publicly available estimates.

Mahdi militia members captured two months ago during sectarian fighting near Khan Beni Saad, a predominantly Sunni area 20 miles northeast of Baghdad on the road to Baquba, were carrying Iranian-made 81mm mortars.

The old Iraqi army, whose arsenals were looted and have been used by Sunni insurgents, used 82 mm mortars, which are incompatible with the Iranian weapons.

Photographs obtained by NewsMax showed that the militiamen had been equipped with an electronic mapping and targeting device bearing the stamp of the Iranian Defense Industries Organization - Electronics and Communications Industries Group.

An instruction manual for the device bore the same markings.

Malaki and Jaafari also have close ties to the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the Badr brigade, the Iranian-backed militia that controls much of southern Iraq.

The Badr brigade crossed into Iraq from Iran during the chaotic days following the U.S. liberation of Baghdad. The United States military was aware of the Badr brigade movement into Iraq, but did nothing to stop it.

Over the past two years, the Badr brigade has refrained from attacks on U.S. troops. Instead, it has spearheaded an Iranian government effort to assassinate former Iraqi army officers who were involved in the 1980-1988 war with Iran.

"Badr brigade has been given a list of former Iraqi generals by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, and they are systematically tracking down and assassinating the individuals on that list," a well-informed Western source in Baghdad told NewsMax.

Many former Iraqi generals have fled the country and taken refuge in other Arab countries or in Europe.

Late last year, Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps began supplying the Badr brigade with a new type of armor piercing shaped charge that has been used by insurgents in attacks against U.S. troops and armored vehicles.

The Iranian-made shaped charges are so powerful they have ripped through the armor of M1-A2 Abrams tanks, sources in Baghdad told NewsMax.

The U.S. military intercepted a large shipment of explosives from Iran in August 2005, including "dozens of shaped charges manufactured recently," NBC News reported at the time.

U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzhad, told the Washington Times in May that Iran "has ties to extremists, including some militias. It supports some of these extremist groups and militias with arms, including the deadly EFP technology," a reference to explosively formed projectiles, or shaped charges.

The Iranian regime has been cooperating with Sunni insurgents as well, Khalilzhad said. He specifically identified a group known as Ansar al-Sunnah, which is tied to al Qaeda, and which operates in northern Iraq along the Iran border "It would be surprising that the government did not know of their presence in northwest Iran and coming across," he said.

Two former aids to Jaafari when he was still prime minister showed up in Serbia earlier this week, seeking to buy medium and heavy weapons, ostensibly for the new Iraqi army.

The two men presented letters to a top weapons manufacturer in Serbia claiming they were top defense ministry officials with procurement authority, "but neither of them have such positions in the current government or contracting authority," knowledgeable sources told NewsMax.

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